Malone Again, Naturally #2

This is the second part from guest author tenthreeleader, you can give him a follow on Twitter @umdpxp

With retirement looming, and a desire to leave the game not immediately apparent, I took coaching badges. As a player-coach (and mostly coach) at Bury, I found I enjoyed working with younger players and even though I wasn’t necessarily better than some of the players on the roster at that late stage of my career, if those players were smart they listened to what I had to say.

When it finally came time to hang up the boots at age 38, I reflected on a career that had been a fortunate one for me: a fair haul of goals, a fair bit of money in the bank, and most importantly, no serious injuries playing the game I loved.

Some players get into coaching and management because they have to after suffering a debilitating or gruesome setback. Not so for old Bobby Malone.

I felt old, after a lifetime of running at full speed, but that feeling would go away after some time away from the game and a return to a sensible workout schedule.

But that good feeling was quickly replaced by boredom. I had a good reputation as a thinking player when I played and getting my badges was not terribly difficult.

It was time to decide what to do with my life, once my representation made it known that I was interested in going into football management.

“The poor sod” was the reaction from the snarkier folks in that fine aggregation known as the English tabloid media, but it really was what I wanted to do. With the money I had put away from playing, I was secure financially – even after an ill-fated marriage – and that was no mean feat.

The security, that is. Not the divorce. That was plenty mean.

My mom and dad had been very close, and his death shook my mom to her core. I wondered why, when everything else between father and son had been so similar, marriage was not. Nobody was shaken to any core when I moved out of my home.

The third generation of Malone, little Blake, was now five years old and starting to kick his first footballs in Birmingham where his mother had custody.

Yet, I spoke with Holly only when spoken to. My interest was with Blake but if Winston Churchill thought an Iron Curtain had descended in Eastern Europe, he should have seen the steel ring around Holly Malone Wagner’s house when dad wanted to see his little guy.

She remarried a year ago, and by all accounts was happy. She married a car dealer. So there was money to support her in the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed while married to me. She wasn’t hurting.

I was, though, but not about money. She was happy and I didn’t begrudge her that, but the cold fish attitude she had developed after Blake’s birth had always perplexed me.

It was really sad, in a way. Holly and I had met after a charity function one night in Birmingham, where the general idea was charities weren’t the only ones who could be lucky.

We were married six years. That was long enough to build a life, have a son, and have everything fall apart, right about the time my injuries happened. It was a bad time for me, but I drew inspiration from my family, realized that it could have been a lot worse, and soldiered on.

I had my health. I had my life. Dad had neither of those things any more.

At the end of the 2013-14 season, though, people started sniffing around my CV and my thoughts soon returned, at least partially, to football.

One of my old clubs, Leyton Orient, asked for an interview. The club whose ownership expected it to win League One was very interested in me, and I in them.

There weren’t a ton of jobs available in the close season, but there were some good ones out there. Orient was one, and soon Fulham was another, but there was one place I really wanted to manage, if only I could wade through the negativity surrounding the club.

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